Comics

Exposing Lies: "X-men #6"

When the lies are finally exposed in Battle of the Atom, the mystery gives way to an emotional, albeit lopsided battle.


X-men #6

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99
Writer: Brian Wood, David Lopez
Publication Date: 2013-12
Amazon

What happens to criminals and con-men when their lies are finally exposed? The Bernie Madoff’s of the world know that their options are limited. People don’t like being lied to. Whether it involves their stock portfolio or who ate the last piece of cake, these deceivers can expect strong reactions from those they’ve deceived. When those people happen to be the X-men, those strong reactions usually manifest in something strong enough decimate an army of Sentinels. Like everyone else, the X-men get pretty upset when they find out that they have been lied to. When the deceivers happen to be future versions of the X-men, the impact is much greater than any Sentinel army.

In X-men #6, the truth is finally revealed. The future X-men, who were revealed to be phony in All New X-men #17, carry themselves like con-men who know the authorities are chasing them, but try to maintain their poise and their charm amongst their victims. They successfully convinced the teenage Cyclops and Jean Grey to go back to the past. They’re on the cusp of succeeding before their lies can be exposed. Like a criminal about to board a flight to a country with no extradition laws, they seem to have everything under control.

But throughout "X-men Battle of the Atom", some have expressed suspicion about these future X-men. Early on in X-men #6, Wolverine and Rachel Grey even try to do something about it. But when the future X-men find out that the teenage Beast and Iceman are missing, they suspect their cover is about to be blown. So rather than wait for someone else to expose the truth, they do so under their own terms. This ensures they have the element of surprise, allowing them to strike the X-men before they can fully understand the depths of the deception. They’re like corrupt businessmen who know they’re about to be audited so they take proactive measures when the IRS comes knocking.

Exposing the deception in this issue is not akin to unmasking the monster at the end of an episode of Scooby Doo. The story doesn’t attempt to be shocking, despite a few striking revelations about the identities of a couple of characters. It just attempts to have an impact of a different kind and X-men #6 succeeds in having this impact. The X-men have been deceived and now they have to fight back to regain control of the situation. But it’s like a race where the opponent gets a head start. They face an uphill battle every step of the way and this struggle helps give the story its impact.

Since the beginning of "X-men Battle of the Atom", the story has found multiple ways to make an impact on both the characters and the readers. It has taken the form of interactions between certain characters, events during certain battles, and revelations about certain lies. Some impacts have been more muted than others, but collectively they give this event a level of emotional weight that resonates in a way that goes beyond just another superhero brawl.

What this event has that "Avengers vs. X-men" lacked is context. This isn’t just one group of X-men fighting another. This is a battle between multiple eras of X-men with the future hanging in the balance. The core of the X-men has always been built around a vision for a better future. Now it has gotten to a point where certain factions of the X-men don’t share that vision. And these phony X-men from the future have completely lost sight of it. They are symbolic of a natural consequence of the X-men’s current course of action. What they are doing and have been doing is not consistent with Charles Xavier’s dream and if they keep following this path, then the X-men are just going to fight amongst each other and not against those who hate and fear them.

While the impact in this issue is still strong, the battle that unfolds is somewhat subdued. That’s to be expected to an extent. The phony X-men had the element of surprise on their side and they used that to their full advantage. Because of this, there was nothing too flashy about the battle. There weren’t many parts that would make the cut in a Michael Bay movie, but that didn’t detract from the overall impact. In a sense, the clash that unfolded in this issue was only half a battle. The other half was set up at the end when the real X-men from the future showed up along with their new allies. It made the “To Be Continued” message at the end a bit hollow, but it moved the story forward in the most effective way to date.

Now that the lies and deceptions are being exposed, "X-men Battle of the Atom" is finally establishing the right connections between all the differing elements. Characters that were a mystery are no longer a mystery. Plot holes that made the narrative confusing at times are being filled. Even the roles of certain characters that haven’t been a major part of the story so far, such as Jubilee and Rachel Grey, are starting to find an important place in this story. And for a story that covers multiple eras of X-men, that’s every bit as important any battle involving killer robots or, in Wolverine’s case, evil offspring from the future.

It feels overdue in some ways, but exposing the lies in X-men #6 also gives greater meaning to the previous parts of the story. This helps add to the scope and scale of the story that "Battle of the X-men" is telling. Now it’s actually possible to see the coming showdown and it promises to be epic in a way that will resonate through multiple eras of X-men.

8

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image